DPW Case Headed to an MCAD Hearing; Efforts at Compromise Unsuccessful

September 14, 2011
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All hopes of working out an alleged discrimination claim between a city employee and his supervisor, the Superintendent of the Department of Public Works, were dashed last week during a private conference in Boston.

All parties met in a conciliation conference before the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) last Thursday and failed to reach a compromise.

“The conciliation conference was not successful so the case is going to the public hearing stage,” said Barbara Green, a spokesperson for the MCAD. “We do not have a date yet and may not for another couple months.”

Earlier this summer, the MCAD found probable cause that DPW Superintendent Don Goodwin had created a hostile working environment for DPW employee Martin Gonya. The crux of the complaint centers on discrimination based on Gonya’s hearing impairment – whereas he claims Goodwin often referred to him as the “deaf mute,” among other things.

That of course is vigorously denied by the City and by Goodwin.

At the same time as part of the discrimination case was allowed to move forward, another part was thrown out. That part concerned claims of disparate treatment by Goodwin, which was not shown to have probable cause.

The conference had been scheduled for late July, but was postponed until last Thursday.

Prior to that conference, Mayor Tom Ambrosino indicated that he would prefer to settle the case and move on – despite the fact that the City completely disputed Gonya’s claims.

However, he said this week that he wasn’t surprised the conference failed because the City didn’t offer much money to settle the matter.

“I didn’t hold up a lot of hope that it would get resolved,” said the mayor. “I don’t think the City was prepared to offer a whole lot…The City’s position is there is no merit to the claim.”

He said that he expected the MCAD public hearing to take place some time next summer.

Due to the fact that the conference was private, neither side was able to comment publicly for this story.

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